Brocades DCX Backbone

By Paula Musich  |  Posted 2008-01-25 Print this article Print

Brocade's DCX Backbone is a "protocol agnostic" data center switch that supports Fibre Channel, FCOE, iSCSI and will support the emerging Data Center Ethernet standard, according to Ian Whiting, vice president and general manager of data center infrastructure at Brocade in San Jose. Fibre Channel and FICON protocols are supported across a range of port speeds and over Gigabit Ethernet.

For raw speeds and feeds, it can scale to support an aggregate switching capacity of 12T bps and 896 ports, including a first-to-market 8G bps Fibre Channel interface, and later this year Brocade will add support for 10G bps Ethernet.

The DCX can support five times the switching bandwidth of current SAN directors and eight times as many virtual servers, claimed Doug Ingraham, senior director of product management at Brocade in Denver.

Software features in the DCX include several value added services that address communications between virtual machines and between virtual machines and storage. Dubbed Adaptive Networking, that capability helps manage virtual flows through the network by dynamically allocating shared resources as requirements from virtual servers change. If congestion happens or is anticipated, the switch fabric dynamically adjusts bandwidth and other resources based on pre-defined service levels.

Both vendors believe their next-generation switch architectures can reduce operational costs for management overhead, the number of boxes required and in the size of the energy bill.

"It allows a lot more movement of storage and servers without a huge operational hassle. You have a degree of freedom you didn't have before. You get a massive reduction in the amount of boxes," said Nick Lippis, principal at Lippis Consulting in Hingham, Mass.

Both vendors over time will also bring out other form factors built around their new switching fabrics.

For Cisco, the Nexus 7000 clearly represents a replacement for the top end of its aging Catalyst switch line, which has been in the market for 15 years. Still, Cisco remains committed to the Catalyst line and will continue to enhance and support it for "at least the next five to seven years," Ullal said.

Cisco in fact announced new 10 Gigabit Ethernet line cards for the Catalyst 6500, a new vertical Catalyst chassis for data centers and the Catalyst 4900 fixed-configuration, top-of-rack Gigabit Ethernet switch.


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